A Rough Storm For The Kansas City Meteorologist

Good morning bloggers,

It is ridiculously cold outside as we set a record low this morning of -7°, breaking the old record by 6 degrees. The coldest temperature ever recorded in March was -10 on March 4th.  We have some warmer days ahead of us, but it will be another roller-coaster ride of weather ahead.


Kansas City Weather Time-Line:

  • Today: Mostly sunny & very cold. High: 14°
  • Tonight: Clear with light south winds returning at around 3 to 10 mph.  Low:  3°
  • Tuesday:  Mostly sunny and much warmer. High: 33°
  • Wednesday:  A weak storm system could bring us some light precipitation in the form of rain or snow. High:  36°

On Saturday, the temperatures dropped into the single digits at the surface, and all the down to 1° during the noon hour.  We just experienced the coldest March high temperature, with a 5°F high, officially in Kansas City since records began taking place in the 1880s.  That is a record, but the most amazing thing is what happened with the precipitation.  The 1000-500 mb thickness was 534 decameters, with an 850 mb temperature of -13°C, and the surface temperature of 2°F by 8 AM, and it was SLEETING! It was sleeting heavily along and south of I-70 across the south KC metro area.  It sleeted for almost 12 hours. There was one small warm layer at around 7,000 feet up, but this is near the precipitation generating zone. It was a temperature profile that would be tough to ever match again. The sleet cut into snowfall totals and created a nightmare for the weather forecaster who predicted high amounts of snow, and I will discuss this in-depth below.

Here is a Youtube clip from Norman, OK. Now, we didn’t have thundersleet, but our sleet was an incredibly rare experience:  Thundersleet in Norman, OK

Look at the frozen pond on this March 3rd morning:



The pond froze over during the day on Sunday. That is incredible. I have never seen that pond freeze over during a day that it was windy and snowing. Incredible, and the fact that it was a March day.  Only two other winters have had below zero readings in December, January, February, and March. It happened this season, and in 1979-80 and 1961-62 winters.

How did it sleet and not snow with temperatures so cold?

Sleet for 12 hours with temperatures dropping through the single digits to near zero?  Has this ever happened in the world before?  Many of you gave the weather forecaster a rough time yesterday. Was it deserved? Perhaps!  We were forecasting high snowfall totals the day or two before the storm moved in.  Was the forecast a bust?  I would consider the snowfall totals part of the forecast quite a bit off. The temperature part of the weather forecast was almost perfect! The amount of precipitation forecast was just a bit under what was predicted but not bad at all.  The forecast for sleet was strongly stressed for days, even hours before the precipitation started, so that part of the forecast was quite accurate.  And, a significant winter storm and Arctic outbreak just happened in the Kansas City viewing area and it was impacting to most of us and our pets.  So, this was not a busted forecast, just one part of it was, and it is unfortunately the most important part of a snow storm forecast.

Let’s look at precipitation forecasting and one reason why it is almost impossible to get it right every time. I feel that the 41 Action Weather team has done an excellent job at predicting snow, not just this season, but the past few years.  Trying to predict the exact amount of any precipitation for any type is really difficult. Let’s say you come up to me and say, “Gary, I really need an inch of rain on my yard tomorrow. Do you think it will rain one inch?”  And, then I may respond, “I think  you will get somewhere between two to three tenths of an inch, but if you get under one of those thunderstorms, then you may get your inch or maybe even two inches of rain.” That person then may say, “thank you for the forecast”. And, then what happens the next day? They get around 1/2″ of rain.  Was the forecast correct?  Now let’s change that exact same discussion into snow.  The person asks, “Gary, how much snow do you think we will have?”. And, by the way this happened around 100 times to me in the past three days.  I respond by saying, “This is a difficult one as sleet may cut into snowfall totals. I am not really sure, but I think you could see at least 2 or 3 inches of snow. But, if you end up in one of these heavier bands of snow, then you could end up with 10″ or maybe even 20?”.  When I said this to people on Saturday they just gave me looks as if I am crazy.  Do you see that it is really the exact same thing as the rainfall forecast? If you use the normal 10 to 1 ratio, then 2 or 3 inches is equivalent to two or three tenths of an inch of rain.  10″ of snow is equivalent to the one inch of rain that person wanted. And, 20″ would be equivalent to two inches of rain.  But, the person needing the inch of rain would not throw us to the wolves like many of you tried to do yesterday. Does this make sense? If we had to forecast exact rainfall amounts every time, then, well, I am not sure what would happen.  Of course we try very hard to make accurate rain and snow predictions and we actually do a pretty good job. This one was just a tough one, and we knew it well before the storm arrived.

So, what happened?  Did you know that weather balloons are launched twice a day at over 500 points across the world, one of which is Topeka, KS?  As the weather balloon travels up it gathers weather information that is used to help initialize the computer models that we use in forecasting the weather.  The Skew T diagram is a plot of the balloon sounding and used by meteorologists to analyze the data.  The plot shows temperature and dew point temperature with height using pressure to indicate the height level.  Take a look at this sounding from Topeka at 12z, or 6 AM Saturday morning:

skew_KTOP_inv 2

Our surface temperature was in the single digits, way below zero Celsius.  And, the atmosphere was moist all the way up. We had an incredible amount of moisture considering the very cold temperatures.  But,look at that one small layer that went above freezing for around 1,700 feet.  From  6,407 feet above us  to 8106 feet above us there was a layer just barely above 32°F (0°C).  But, this level is most often where precipitation forms, rain and snow. It can vary a lot, but usually this is near where conditions become favorable for rain and snow formation. And, if it was developing in that 1700 foot layer, then there is a good chance that much of the precipitation formed as rain way up there. Some of it was likely melted snowflakes as well.  Then the rain fell through the much colder air below 6,407 feet and the raindrops froze into sleet.  The 1000-500 mb thickness had dropped to around 5,340 meters by 9 or 10 AM, and yet it was still sleeting on the south side of the city. This EXTREMELY rare combination is what ended up cutting our snowfall totals by at least four to six inches.  In other words, our 2 to 4 inch amounts would have easily have been in the forecast 6 to 10 inch range. The weather forecaster had a very unlucky day! 

So, it really wasn’t a busted forecast overall, but we absolutely ended up wrong on the snow part of the weather forecast. This is one of the storm systems we pegged on our long range forecast made in the middle of January. This is the graphic we showed on the air. And, the only storm that didn’t quite show up was in that 14th to 17th time-frame. We were four out of five, or 80% accurate, which included predicting the big early February storm, and then the 50 day forecast for this most recent storm system.


What lies ahead? The weather pattern continues to cycle and we will discuss this in the Weather 2020 blog, and in here from time to time.  Winter may get a break, but we have quite an interesting ride of weather ahead of us as we head into the Super Bowl part of the weather pattern later this month.

Have a great day. Please let us know what you think about the Skew T diagram. Did it make sense to you? If you have any questions I will try to find the time to answer them later today.  Thank you for spending a few minutes reading the Action Weather Blog.


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106 comments to A Rough Storm For The Kansas City Meteorologist

  • Buckets


    I call ____… What about the overall precip. amts… were they even close to the forecasted amts?

    NWS shows 0.14 of precip. total for Lawrence, KS for this storm. Frankly, the main track of this system (“the bullseye”) missed K.C. to the south by four counties.

    Late in the evening, close to midnight on 3/2 UPDATED snowfall totals re-placed earlier lesser snowfall totals with 10+ inches from Lawrence east thru the heart of KC…while the storm was in progress. Why did this happen when it was clear the forecast was not materializing?

    There were times when the forecasters were saying it is snowing outside when it was not. That shouldn’t happen in this day and age.

    • As of around 10 PM Saturday night we were still debating whether or not their would be sleet. And, for the Lawrence area, I am not sure what the melted down precipitation was, but it may have been one of the lower amounts. This storm did produce 0.53″ liquid at Jeff Penner’s house near the Olathe/Overland Park border. Overall the precipitation amounts were definitely on the lighter side of the forecast range. Now, on your statement of “There were times when the forecasters were saying it is snowing outside when it was not”, well you certainly did NOT watch us! You had to have gotten that from other sources, so please don’t throw us into that boat.


  • MCIRamp

    As a snow pessimist, I loved the results of this storm and harbor no ill will against any professional KC forecaster. It was a tough call for sure. The persistence of that shallow warm layer could very well be thesis material, of “Perfect Storm” rarity. I do have a working knowledge of this discipline, so perhaps I am much more understanding than the next guy. I always thought it is tougher to forecast over a broad area rather than just a single point.

    Even the SPC had a MD touting 1 in/hr snowfall rates for 4-5 hours out at 8 or 9pm sat evening. From what I’ve read from them in past discussions, they have access to real-time ACARS data from commercial/government/private aircraft. I would’ve thought they might have been tipped off quicker than 2 balloons and had a sleet emphasized MD. That’s conjecture on my part though.

    Love the skew-T! The one you depicted makes me wish I didn’t work outside. They get my attention more when they are “loaded guns.” I’m sure in the next few months a skew-T will present itself that way. You should revisit the topic again then, it would be fun and educational (and adiabatic, but I digress!).

    Anyhow, keep on keeping on. There’s no way to know when the atmosphere is going to make a mistake.

  • MCIRamp

    sorry about the double post!

  • MikeL

    Not only did the skew-T make sense to me I posted a comment and link to the 6PM Saturday Topeka skew-T on Saturday evening as the sleet started here in Topeka. It clearly showed the same warm layer a 750mb around 2-3C degrees. Based on the forecast I thought that would eventually cool to below 0C…it didn’t.

  • kurtjon

    I’m not blaming the weather forecasters, I’m disappointed that so little precipitation fell in my area compared to models generating up to three quarters of an inch of moisture. What will it take to get decent amounts of precipitation up here?

  • donna martin

    What does the weather look like for spring break around our area?
    The week of 3/17

    • Donna,

      You should download the Weather 2020 app. It has those forecasts on there out to 12 weeks. Here is the forecast from the Weather 2020 App made around 12 weeks ago:

      Week of March 17th:
      “The weather across this part of the country is not expected to be that nice as we will be tracking one to two shots of cold air and a storm system. The storm system will likely affect the work week and be coming out of the southwest USA. It will likely have its biggest impact on Kansas and Missouri with a chance for rain, ice and snow, depending on how much cold air is in place. Calmer weather and a warming trend will be likely by the weekend. If you are spending Spring break in Kansas City and St. Louis you will likely have to deal with a wet storm system and cold weather. Cities to the north, like Omaha and Des Moines will have less chance of precipitation, but be cold most of the week, until the weekend. Temperatures this period in most locations will below average, warming to near to above average by the weekend.”

      It doesn’t mean it is stormy all that week. Let’s see how it sets up.


      • northlander11

        Gary, isn’t the Weather2020 app only for apple devices? The majority of users (myself includes) have android phones… the latest market share survey was something like 80% Android vs 20% iOS. I think you’re seriously limiting your reach with this app by only releasing it for iPhones and iPads.

        • It will be in the works soon to get it on Android.


          • Drought Miser

            Ok good news I’m a DROID user from point a…frankly there is no comparison when you sit an apple phone next to the new Samsung Galaxy S4 or 5 or the Note, looking forward to 20/20 release on Android!!!!

        • Jim Satterfield

          Not only is it only for iOS devices right now but it also doesn’t work on my first gen iPad.

  • terrydsnowy

    Hey Gary good job on predicting the storm for February. Do you see anymore possible wet storm Systems like we did in February. Do you see any for march and when? Do you think where done with the cold and snow? I heard from anythere station that we are probably not done with it yet this year.

    • The part of the weather pattern than produced each one of those storm systems will be cycling back through. The potential for Arctic air availability will gradually fade, however.


  • Jerry

    When will the record-setting February 4th storm that dumped a foot+ of snow repeat this year??? What are you predicting for it’s next time through??

    • Jerry,

      That was the storm that cycled through during the Super Bowl part of the weather pattern. So, it is due in late March into early April.


  • Deb

    Thank you, Gary! Yet another great blog entry. This is an example of why I continue to come back and read your blog. It is very educational, and sometimes fun, too! Kudos to you and our team. Even though I am a person of a certain age, I still love learning. I learned many, many new things from this last storm, both in the discussions leading up to and during.

    Thanks again, and please keep us learning!

    I hope you have a great day!!!

  • AnthonyW


    I know a lot of people are naysayers and love to Monday morning quarterback but you and your team do an awesome job. You are predicting the future and you stick you necks out by predicting farther into the future then anyone else does, yet no one seems to give you credit for that.This was a very complex storm and I think we learned a lot from it.

    Anyway I’m hoping the polar vortex part of the cycle (although much weaker) will bring us cooler than average temperatures in April, June and August.


  • frigate

    Gary, don’t be too harsh on yourself, at least from the NWS and one other station I saw Saturday morning, they also were saying higher snow fall totals. Personally, I’m glad we didn’t get the 6-10 inches, I’m long over this extreme winter but as you say, its far from over, I’m not even thinking of spring until after Easter which is late in April this year as well.

  • Weather Hulk4400

    There were several good points made in the blog – but there were several other factors with this storm that caused us to miss much of the snow. The cold air pushed this storm further south, and there was a prolonged dry slot. I am sure your team discussed these factors as they normally do – but I know another station addressed several concerns with this storm on Friday night about what might happen – and the ironic thing is -all of his concerns came true.

    The thing I didn’t understand is after 10pm Saturday, other forecasts, even the NWS forecasts for cutting back on snowfall totals. JD Rudd talked about the sleet mixture heading our way – but he thought it would change to snow. What I am saying is, I was surprised that the snowfall totals didn’t change on your station as well. I know it is tough to go back and fourth – but I think in this situation, it might have been better to downgrade. That is a very tough call.

    What blew my mind is yesterday when the storm was over, you were the only station still forecasting snow. That is not a good or bad thing per say – but it just seemed to me like an attempt to hang on to a forecast that didn’t go as planned. Radar was lit up, but no one else in KC had any snow in the forecast at all.

    Other stations called this forecast a bust – so I guess that is a very subjective term. You are correct, there were things about the forecast that were right on target, But for me the biggest part of the storm was snowfall amounts. I am not saying you have to get the exact snowfall that will fall – but I think it is important to adjust this as needed.

    In my humble opinion, I think we need to look at all aspects of the final outcome of the forecast and look at what the last bit of data showed on Saturday night. To go back several days doesn’t really make the forecast any better – because you cannot forecast exactly what will happen until the storm is about on top of us. In other words, to go back several days and say we saw this storm coming does not make you right with the final outcome. Everyone talked about this storm system for well over a week. No one new for certain what was going to happen, and it still had plenty of tricks in the bag. LOL.

    That is why nowcasting is so important. So from my stand point, as the storm came through late Saturday night, whatever the forecast was at that point is the the one you have to measure. I give the 41 Action Weather Team a grade of a C+ for this one. I think that is a fair grade when you look at everything. You cannot win them all, and that is OK. That is life.

    • Thank you for the kind C+ grade. And, we were downgrading. It was just one of those nights that stressed our team. I was emcee of a big event Saturday night. I told that crowd at 9 PM that we would more likely be in the 2 to 4 inch range. We just didn’t update the blog until much later. I think you know that I am usually updating all of the time. And, the call for more snow yesterday, well, it did happen, just another inch or two, but it did happen.

      And, as discussed in the blog, the snow part of the forecast can be considered a bust. But a forecast for this impacting storm was accurate, imo. So, overall it was not a bust, unless you only look at one aspect of the storm. I have experienced a few busts in my career, fortunately not too many. But, a bust is when the storm veers away and misses you. We got hit! It is just that sleet cut into the totals and we discussed this all the way up to storm time!


      • plowguy65

        Gary, yes we did get hit, so the forecast wasn’t a total bust. I am not saying that I am the best judge of these things, since it is important to what I do to have as accurate a forecast as possible, but I judge the success or failure of a forecast on several things that may or may not be important to most people.

        It is always helpful to know what is coming well before it gets here, but I really start to pay attention about 48 hours out. I will never hold a forecast against a met if they say we are getting something 3 days out and it doesn’t materialize. I know that there are a huge amount of variables that may play into what actually happens, so I don’t get to frustrated by that.

        However, if a forecast is made 12-18 hours out, my expectation goes way up. At that point, if a winter storm is being predicted, there are a few things I need to know. Ranking them in order of most important down, they are:

        1) How much are we going to get?
        2) When will it start and how long will it last?
        3) What will be the temperature when it falls, and what will the temperature do after it is over?
        4) How windy will it be, and for how long?
        5) What will the temperature do for the following day(s)?

        The first two are the most important things, so much so that if they are wrong, the rest doesn’t really matter at all. The fact that “we got hit” does not make it a successful forecast, by any stretch of the imagination. A 3″ snowfall that happened within 18 hours of a 10pm forecast that was calling for 10″+ in Johnson County will never be a success in my book. I don’t really care how complex it is, I care about results. And in this case, the results were lacking. It doesn’t matter if you predict the likelihood of a storm 50 days out if you can’t get the details right 18 hours out.
        Just my $.02

      • luvsno

        Gary, you didn’t “update the blog until much later”…but JD also did not “downgrade” or update the snowfall map at 10p.m. ..that is the last thing that most people saw and heard before going to bed…the map that still showed 10+ for Johnson County. Which JD said that bull’s eye was plotted with YOUR influence since you are more familiar with the area than he is. (His exact wording on facebook)

  • yourmom

    It seems odd to be in a drought when we can’t go more than a couple days without precip. I know the cold makes a difference. That cold precip is really getting old, but we know it isn’t the weather guy’s fault.

  • Terri

    My son is absolutely ecstatic: most of the liquid fell as sleet and so he did not have to shovel, and he got out of school ANYWAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • MikeT1

    from a weather novice and one who has been following this blog since 2003, I don’t think the forecast was a bust at all. there were a variety of opinions and scenarios presented by the team, and by many of the bloggers. one had to know that the snowfall forecast could end up on the lighter side. I, for one, am glad that it did. “prepare for the worst, hope for the best” as they say. I grade the forecast on 41 a B+. – mike t.

  • Only 8 Months, 27 Days, 15 Hours until Winter begins again!!!

  • theb_swifty

    As usual great analysis. I read this blog and use weather 2020 daily from up here in Omaha. I appreciate the explanation of the weather. You do a great job!

  • j-ox

    How many VARIABLES are there to weather forecasting? LOL
    Temp, humidity, pressure, winds, elevation, solar heating/cooling, cross-currents, land topography/features, man-made heat islands/cities, etc…
    So,’more than quite a few’ to say the least.
    Flipping & calling the 10+ sided weather coin is significantly more challenging than getting it right 50% of the time with a 2-sided coin = a silly analogy I know.

    Pure physics says that 33 degree moisture does not freeze. Put a 100+mph wind on it and it STILL won’t freeze. Wind chills are for warm-blooded creatures and how a particular temp is ‘perceived’.

    My point is that we measure/quantify these weather variables as they present themselves like a snapshot in time. But weather forecasting is an art dealing only with the future and anticipated results taken from the measured variables.
    Gary, you and your team are dang good artists! Just keep on painting…

  • Chuck

    Gary, I have a question and a comment. Comment first: In this rare occurrence of what just happened with this sleet factor, maybe the thing to do would have been to do 2 graphics (since graphics is apparently what people hang their hats on), one for the snowfall prediction if all snow and one with the snowfall prediction if sleet undercuts the total snow. I know you talked about this sleet for days before and said exactly what I am saying to put in graphic form, but maybe if it was in a graphic form, people would not call the forecast a bust. Of course, you would have people then saying you are hedging your bets, so you can’t win totally either way. Personally, I don’t think the forecast was a bust. Every met in this area, nws included, thought there would be some sleet, but that the column would cool quickly.

    My question: I understand totaly the warm air aloft causing the sleet issue for us, but can you explain for my education why this same storm system that is now approaching the east coast is producing MUCH less sleet along it’s path than it was just one day ago? I know why it’s not, because the air is cold through the column and prouducing snow, but why is the warm air aloft NOT as big a factor in D.C., Baltimore and even places much further south than we are? The warm air that got pulled up in our mid-levels was coming from way south of us right? Wouldn’t, in theory, the same problem exist as this storm marched east? Maybe you can give a quick lesson in why it’s not doing near as much sleeting now. Thanks

    • Chuck,

      That’s why what we experience is so rare, if it ever has happened before. I think as the storm was approaching Kansas City this subtropical plume of moisture was being fed in from the Pacific and this very moist layer, that was likely at around that 750 mb level, could have been the deciding factor that contributed to that one layer above freezing?

      As the storm moved east, that subtropical plume was absorbed into the storm and it was not as much of a factor.


  • terrydsnowy

    Hey Gary I was wondering is there anywhere on the weather 2020 that I can look and see what the KC metro area weather will be for march? I have a Android and there’s app yet or you maybe going to put them on the KSHB blog sometime in the coming days. I know you was staying on my there post that wthey was going to circle back through. Thanks for your response.

  • j-ox

    Is there a time limit on typing a Reply…as in – does a typed Reply time out if one takes too long before submitting? I realize there is moderation…

  • Pete Capone

    Lots of JOCO moms won’t be able to eat their bon-bons and watch their talk show circuits because kids are home. Tough break for sure.

    • Drought Miser

      Lol that’s awesome my wife asked me yesterday if they still make bon bons !! I really could not answer her I haven’t bought them in forever maybe today I will go find her some henceforth they shut the job down today due to cold temperatures!!

      • Screaming Yellow Zonker

        In a town with Russell Stover headquarters you ask if they still make bonbons? Russell Stover is turning over in his grave!

  • rred95

    Since we broke the coldest temp for march we might as well break the record for biggest snowfall in march. I think it was around 20 in. and it was farily late in march if i remember correctly.

    • j-ox

      IFF we’re to have one more snow, then let’s get it over with SOON – so we can all get outside for Spring lawn work. Cabin fever is getting old.

    • Drought Miser

      Your right it was around the 23rd or 24th of March that mci received it’s record snowfallof just under 2 feet!!! Seds will know the exact year and probably the timestamp !!!

      • summerlvr

        I remember a large snowstorm on March 23, 1990.

      • sedsinkc

        It was March 23 and 24, 1912. 16 inches on the 23rd and 9 inches on the 24th for a total of 25 inches.

      • sedsinkc

        That snow fell in downtown KC, where the official recording station was then. Mci (KCI Airport) did not become the official recording station until 1972. In fact, I don’t know if any airports existed in 1912, only 9 years after the Wright Brothers’ first airplane flight!

  • NoBeachHere

    Couple of Questions.
    1. If the NAO does decide to go Negative during the next 3 to 4 weeks, could that play a role in us getting more cold/snow?
    2. If that Western Ridge breaks down and allows SW storms to come in, would that also increase our moisture chances.

    Reason I am asking is the Western Ridge does not look to be as strong(forecasted) and the NAO can only stay flat(neutral) for so long. The LRC keeps hinting at chances of more cold with these diving cold fronts, just wondering what our weather could be with a negative NAO, would this not enhance our cold storminess?

  • Drought Miser

    Wowowo my Accu+Weather app just updated with a pair of fifties for highs Thursday and Friday, not to mention almost 70 on Sunday!!!! Ummm is this an outlier or a developing trend??? Oh that March sun angle !!!!

  • Weatherfreakjj

    Does this mean the potential severe weather episode forecast-ed by the LRC in late April may not have the ideal set-up, seeing as this storm didn’t pan out as planned? Any correlation?

  • Hockeynut69

    Drought that may be an error on Sunday. Most things I have looked at show around 50°. But I like 70 much better.

  • sluke

    Gary, first time poster. This was clearly a busted forecast and one which you should take ownership of. Forecasting the weather (we were in the 6″ to 10″ band) is not easy, but you are paid very well to do it. Being wrong is not a bad thing, but being wrong and not admitting it is a poor way to handle the situation. Just saying.

  • JB

    Usually I can be fairly critical of the forecasts but I really don’t see the big miss here. Everyone said that sleet could cut into snow fall totals and it did. I took the graphics as being the worst case scenario with sleet possibly cutting into that so the forecast was fine with me. However, JD did hold on to the possibility of more snow all the way into the 5pm
    forecast on Sunday when everyone else said what was left would go south. For a snow removal service operator that is frustrating but I’m glad I chose to ignore him.
    The LRC once again rules as the long range forecast. The closer I watch it I really don’t see how anyone doubts it. I would still appreciate a more detailed explanation of how it could be so dry in January but still be a more active rest of March if the systems cycle back again.
    Finally, what’s the chance of limiting the wish casting and constant model posting comments by some bloggers. I find it much more annoying than some of the snarky comments made by people who get labeled as trolls. Remember, if your blog viewership
    Is diverse and not dedicated just to snow lovers then trolling works both ways. I’m ready for the spring warmup so people who come on wishing for another 12″ snow are trolls to me.

  • Chuck

    JB, good write up. If I could respond to the wishcast/troll thing you are writing on. I know where you are coming from. I think the big difference, and I think it is very big, is that while the snow lovers and model watchers might get a bit annoying as they live and die with model runs, the trolls as you describe them have a sole intention. That intention is to disrupt, cause havoc, make comments that are easy to interpret as rude, and once in a while offensive. While I see your point about they can both be annoying to you if you don’t like either of those sides and like to stay more even kiel, it’s the trolls that ruin the blog way more than general excitement for weather that the snow lovers and wishcasters, as you call them, come from. I do get your point though. It’s easy, I think to draw the line on what is a trolling or unecessary rude comment, but it is much more difficult going the other way.

    • JB

      Chuck, I think the only rule should be no offensive comments that slur race, religion or
      sexual preference. And of course people who disrupt sites set up as a memorial for someone. But after that it gets too subjective. I watch this blog and 20/20 and haven’t seen that many comments that look purposely disruptive. Plus, anyone who agrees with
      Gary gets a lot more leeway in their comments. The attacks and name calling from Gary’s supporters can be vicious but it is allowed because they agree with Gary. You can’t say that you really know someone’s intent and you can’t measure how annoying one comment is over another. I’m sure that I’m not the only person who finds the wish casting and model posting annoying because JD Rudd made a similar comment. What’s really annoying is that a small group of people sometimes take over the blog with their back and forth wish casting. I watch the blog to get information and they are very disruptive. A troll is a troll whether it’s intentional or not because you can rarely prove someones intent.

  • Roohawk

    Reported melted precip from latest winter storm:

    Emporia – 0.09″
    Topeka (Forbes) – 0.17″
    Topeka (Billard) – 0.17″
    Lawrence – 0.14″
    KCI – 0.27″
    JoCo Executive – 0.18″
    JoCo New Century – 0.19″
    Lee’s Summit – 0.14″

    I know Gary mentioned Jeff Penner had over 0.50″ at his place but it looks like he was the exception to the rule. Based off of the above precip numbers I’d say this past storm performed well below the moisture forecasts I saw of 0.50-0.75″ with some areas potentially getting up to 1.00″ of total moisture. This helps to feed the forecast “bust” discussion…

    • dudelove

      I don’t have issues with mets being wrong. The weather is what it is and I appreciate Gary for coming out and admitting the issues (which he really doesn’t have to do).

      That’s my main problem…not that we didn’t get the snowfall amounts, but we didn’t come close to the moisture amounts. I live near JoCo executive and we didn’t get much of anything. It’s not like an 1″ of sleet took away from the snowfall amounts. Even though it did sleet for quite some time, it didn’t really accumulate too much. That’s not Gary’s fault obviously, but it was becoming more evident through Sat. evening/night that the precip just wasn’t there as expected, but there wasn’t an adjustment to the forecast. Not that a wrong forecast is going to really affect people at all, however more people will have the “ya, they are hyping this up way too much, so I know we won’t get anything” mentality (as dumb as that is, it’s dangerous as well).

      My second problem was the graphic of the probability of getting ranges of snowfall amounts posted here on Sunday. It was disingenuous and that graphic was made before an “official” predicted total was aired. It comes across like “hey, a few days ago I gave it a 10% chance of doing nothing”…that’s not forecasting, that’s hedging your bets.

      But hey, these are really small “problems” in the grand scheme of things. Better to over-estimate and be over-prepared than the opposite.

    • There is no way the totals were that low. I know that’s what those automated instruments showed, but Jeff’s is valid.


  • batman

    Nice write up. The facts are the facts and the fact is this forecast was blown. I know it’s hard for you to say it but it’s true. Every forecast was a bust from the NWS,41, and all the other’s. It’s just one of those things. It was a tricky storm and this time it tricked you right out of your shoes. Better luck with the next one!

    • Sorry, just disagree. But, that’s your opinion. Yes, we blew the snowfall forecast part of this storm, but the storm hit! Just look outside.


      • plowguy65

        With winter weather conditions being so potentially dangerous, the snowfall part is the only part that matters! Yes, you got the temperatures right, but the temperatures didn’t cause churches to cancel services on Sunday. The predicted snowfall did. You can claim it wasn’t a blown forecast due to the fact that “we got hit”, but the snowfall predicted was more than 3x what fell. That is all that matters to the general public.

  • NotTheDroid

    Gary you mentioned our high yesterday being 45 degrees below average. Has this ever happened before in Kansas City history? What about a high 45 degrees above average? I would doubt the latter, it would also have to be this time of year if it were to happen.

  • Screaming Yellow Zonker

    I am glad Gary pointed out on TV that freezing drizzle does not show up on radar. I went out at 9 a.m. Saturday and there WAS freezing drizzle. I did not know whether it was going to continue and build up before the big show was supposed to begin Saturday afternoon. I wish there were some way to predict exactly when the streets would start getting bad. I know a couple returning from a funeral in southern Missouri who ran into freezing drizzle near Warrensburg and really white-knuckled it back to KC.

    I remember the day Derrick Thomas died and there was that massive pileup on I-29 near Platte City. It was a beautiful day and 50-something degrees. But the weather forecasters had said it was possible/likely that the streets would get bad later that day. It certainly didn’t look like the kind of day that would get bad, but the forecasters were right. People were caught out not expecting the streets to get icy but the weather moved in exactly when the forecasters said it would.

    I wish I knew how much it can actually freezing-drizzle before streets start to get bad.

    • Drought Miser

      I can confirm that freezing drizzle Saturday morning, it was ever so light and didn’t last long at my location in Merriam Ks but nevertheless it did occur at some point around 9 am Saturday morning.

    • KUweatherman

      I’m 99% sure in video I’ve seen from that accident that it was snowing the day he crashed.

  • Screaming Yellow Zonker

    While I’m on the subject, I remember a freezing rain or whatever it was even in 1993, the kind that made the streets slick but didn’t bring down powerlines. People were so dumb about it. Hotels would not let teenagers check in even with their parents on the phone begging them to let their kids spend the night rather than drive home. Rules were rules.

  • Drought Miser

    JD said on Facebook he wants our opinion on the way we would like to get our snowfall forecast in the future. I suggested sticking with the color coded maps but with each change in color have the percentage of likelihood of any given snow amounts greater than say in example 50 percent chance of greater than 2 inches in this color, then 70 percent chance of getting greater then 4 inches in this color (all depending on your feelings and model data of the sampled storm) maybe even a 100percent color,and so on this would be a much better way of conveying your thoughts on any given storm and at the end of the storm the naysayers wouldn’t hound so much , maybe huge maybe there!!!

  • stjoeattorney

    We have automated instruments, but my snow core less than three inches had 0.18 liquid. We had no sleet, cold yes. one final time you were all were wrong. NWS on down the line. I know you are tired of hearing it but it was BLOWN up here.

    I look foward to warmer days abd two-three more snows.


  • lswxbytes

    Here in Lee’s Summit I have collected 0.30″ of melted precipitation from this event.

  • Emaw

    I can’t speak to what Jeff got for total precip. at his house but those totals above are from NWS I believe, I looked on their site last night.

    • Well, If those totals are right, it’s just nuts. Maybe they are correct. And, that is just the way this season has gone. We should have taken the model output and cut it by 70% and we would have had it right.


    • sedsinkc

      I don’t see how those totals can be right where an inch of sleet fell and then 2 inches or more of snow on top. I think once those automatic gauges thaw they will record more moisture. I’ve seen that happen before, where the initial precip readings are too low because the gauge is iced up.

    • sedsinkc

      The ratio of sleet to liquid water is much more constant than the ratio of snow to water. I think it’s around 3 or 4 inches of sleet equals 1 inch of water, so 1 inch of sleet should be between .25 and .33 inches of liquid.

      • I think it’s more like 2 to 1 on sleet to water.


        • sedsinkc

          Yeah, probably between 2 and 3 to 1. Makes sense, as in geology we know uncompacted sand has porosity of around 40-45% and sleet is similar to sand in some ways, except sleet contracts when it melts. At 50% porosity, a pile of sand would be half sand grains and half air voids between the grains. In sleet this would be the equivalent of about 2 to 1 sleet to water because obviously liquid water has zero porosity.

  • sedsinkc

    My take: Yes, the snow forecast for this past storm was way off. So what? Some people have selective memory and only remember parts of the forecast, not all the pertinent details. The overall track record in the last 4 or 5 years on snowstorm forecasts has been remarkably good, imo. I remember in the first years I lived in KC that snow forecasts were missed quite frequently, to both the downside (high totals expected that didn’t happen) and the upside (little to no snow expected, and several inches fell). The forecasts have gotten much better over the years, given how complex weather forecasting can be (see the Skew-T diagram Gary posted). Yes the snowfall forecast this weekend was too high, but there were caveats given as well about the potential for sleet. The temperature forecast was very good, as was the timing for the storm. I was on the blog Saturday night raising the alarm about how I did not think the high snowfall totals would verify given what was actually happening with the radar and surface observations, and by 10 or 11 pm I posted that I believed a general 2 to 4 inches would be the eventual storm total. Of course, some of the snow lovers pooh poohed my comments, lol.

  • Drought Miser

    I also learned a lot about a skew “T” diagram today I never knew how important those were in determining factors of weather… I’m glad they still use those weather ballons that is a very important forecasting tool old school style!!!

    • sedsinkc

      Those balloons are the best tool we have to get a (sort of) vertical profile of air pressure, wind, temperature, and moisture. I say sort of vertical because obviously the balloon gets blown by the wind, so as it ascends it changes its map position depending on the direction and speed of the wind it encounters. You can also find diagrams that show the position of the balloon as it ascended.

  • Roohawk

    If those automated instruments were wrong for this event then they’ve been wrong for every frozen precip event of the winter. A whole network of regional automated instruments wouldn’t start operating erroneously all on the same precip event.

    • sedsinkc

      Why not? They were all subjected to the same temperatures far below freezing during this event.

    • sedsinkc

      No other event was within 10 degrees of how cold it was when the sleet and snow were falling in this past storm.

      • Roohawk

        The other events would’ve been in the ballpark of the 20ish degree day we had today. If the sensors were able to record precip in the 20s then we should’ve seen a couple of “clicks” today. If the precip was truly the 0.50″ that some are claiming fell then we should see around 0.30″ of new precip over the next several days without any actual precip falling due to continued melting & precip recording by the instruments. I seriously doubt we see that happen.

  • rred95

    HaHa,the female anchor for 41 6pm news just made you tube or one of those news blooper shows.I wish she would have just had fun with it instead of being so serious, that made it more awkard that you all didnt just laugh about it. And I wouldnt say wed is a storm if only .05 inch of snow.

    • Henley

      Jadi Girl is cute but not the most relaxed or fluid anchor in the world…That said I watched the video clip and looked like she handled it quite well

  • Emaw

    I completely agree the forecasting of winter storms is miles ahead of where it used to be, but trying to pin down amounts in localized areas of any type of precipitation will always be the challenge.
    The LRC has been money this winter Imo, I’m not trying to bust any body’s chops but as far as the precip. goes it is what is, we didn’t get very much. Just tell me we’re done with the brutally cold air for the winter I’ll be happy!

  • leessummitgirl

    I love reading these type of discussions. I don’t always understand everything you are saying (yet), but it’s fascinating. Thank you.

  • Hockeynut69

    I guess I will throw my two cents in. First, I nailed my forecast. I said 2-16″ and I nailed it (tongue and cheek). I know it was mentioned that snowfall amounts were a miss. But my problem is trying to then justify by getting the temperatures correct or other factors. Bravo on that. But were people really focused on the temperature? Is that what drove them in hoards to the grocery store? Is that why so many schools, churches, activities etc were cancelled over the weekend? Because of the temperature? No they were basing it on predicted snowfall and messy conditions. It did get messy due to sleet but I certainly didn’t see this as a shut the city down type of storm.

    If this were May and people were planting gardens, flowers etc then I would say temperature getting below freezing would be the main focus. This storm was made to be all about the snow and it didn’t pan out. In my book that is a miss for this storm. Props to you though on the LRC hitting at 80%. I am still here because I believe in the weather team here. Bring on Spring!

  • Kcchamps

    looks like we have a snow chance Wednesday, and again on Saturday

  • Roohawk

    Gary, just out of curiousity, what was the liquid precip you guys measured at KSHB? I forgot to include Wheeler Downtown Airport on my list earlier…they recorded 0.11″ from this past event.

  • sam hill

    Gary congrats on the LRC prediction part of the storm. It was right on schedule per your long range forecast. The totals were way off as many have said and I guess my take on the whole thing was that the nowcasting was poor as well. Yes I understand that forecasting is tough especially snow fall. I did think that putting the graph up yesterday, or whenever it was, was a mistake on your part. The LRC is doing quite well so far this year. Curious to see how the rest of the year stacks up.

    I think it was Jerry who asked where was this storm in the November part of the pattern? I’m curious as to where this was in the past cycles of the LRC.

    On a non weather note GIRL SCOUT COOKIES ARE HERE! Here’s to a package of peanut butter cookies biting the dust with a big glass of milk!

  • Kcchamps

    latest NAM

    well this could get interesting, if it comes a bit further south

    • JB

      Do you ever stop? Anyone can look at those sites. We don’t need your constant updates. You are the perfect example of a wish caster who doesn’t have a clue what they are doing with these models. Why not leave it to people who do know what they are doing?

    • weathermom

      KCchamps thank you for the weather maps. I always look for your links.

    • Drought Miser

      Ummm if that slides south…well I just don’t know what… keep us posted Champs!!!!

  • JB

    Have you posted the expected dates for storms in March? Similar to what you did in February. Maybe I missed it. What’s the March forecast?

  • Emaw

    Looks like it’s going to be in the 50′s on Friday and then again on Monday.

  • Dobber

    100. Now jb, a lot of us like champs maps

  • Emaw

    Instead of KSHB weather blog, how about KSHB snow blog? Seems more fitting.

  • katiemarie

    Nice write up Gary! I liked seeing the Skew T diagram.

    After reading some of these comments, I sure hope you have thick skin… We were well warned that sleet could cut into snow totals. Tough having a job where you have to try to predict the future!

  • kcw0lf

    It’s really hard to predict weather and it live 41 news, Gary, and your team. You have a glass is half full mentality and that’s why I tune in…but I would consider it a bust. In sports terms if I said Peyton Manning will throw a TD pass, Russell Wilson will throw a TD pass, and the total score of the game from both teams will be 52 pts with the Broncos winning 28 – 24. I would call that prediction a bust even though 3 of those things were right. The most important one was wrong. But I wasn’t mad at the miss…it happens. I think everyone there does a great job.